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PHOTOVOICES LAMALERA: The Ie Gerek Ritual Whaling Season Cermony

 

Peter Bataona, a local historian and Catholic priest from Lamalera village. Photo by: Tommy Schultz ©

By: Peter Bataona

Ie Gerek is the most significant ritual ceremony for the whaling community of Lamalera. Every year they hold this ceremony in order to proclaim that whaling activities is started and spirit of ancestors and spirit of the nature around like the sea, fishes and others animal may be informed and let this whaling community doing this activities though out the year safety and properous.

In the community of the whaling of Lamalera they consider the role of “Lika telo” (three fire heart) that is three aristocrat clans, Bataona, Blikololo and Levotuke. When the sun sets on the last day of April, the leader of the aristocrat clans of the whaling community of Lamalera go to Lamamanu, a hamlet near mountain area to meet land owner. They bring with them all petition in behalf of the hunger people. Upon ariving they enter the great house of the Clan Lamamanu as they consider this clan as messenger of this ceremony process. One of the members will go out to Langofujo (it is the clan house of landowner) to inform and invite the landowner to come. The meeting is started with the usual welcome-tradition by giving each other native cigar and betel nut. They will spend a half of the night to discusse more about fishing activities, evaluate what attitude happened in the past and the main petition would be cited respectfully by representative of Bataona clan. The landowner would accept it and wrap them in their good will and intend to do the best for the people. The main petition is cited in local language; “Bapa gesi Raja, kame gere leta nena, soro fulu kajo lolo menure ge kame me pau ata kide ribu ratu”. ( Gesi Raja, we come to ask for the greens as vegetables which we bring down and feed the poor, they are thousand and for the need of many other people). This ceremony will end up with super then the landowner goes out to their house to prepare themselve for the further ceremony rituals in the Mt. Labalekang. The representative of the aristocrat clans may spend over night in the Lamamnu clan house until following day. They then go down to the community and waiting for the coming of the ceremony riders from the Mt. Labalekang.

 

The “Ie Gerek” ceremony started in the top of the Mt. Labalekang. The group of landowner goes up in the dawn, hiking the tick bushes to reach a place named “Pau Lera”. (Pau means to feed and Lera means the Sun. Pau Lera means feeding the Sun.) They consider thiss place is a dwelling place of god which they call “Letala” and the dwelling place of ancestors as well. Letala is a divine name adresses to go fo the Sun-Moon and the earth. They bring with them offering and upon ariving thiss place they offer lontar palm wine, cigar and betel nut in front a cave where they consider the place of the divine. There is a mantra prayer must be cited as following: “Bele raja Rimo, bele Lepang ina. Kam gej ma serum mi grap lame ke kide knukaj je lef ju fata, da gej lau una koker, da leta furu kalolo di kam, fe kam gej ma leta di bele raja Rimo no bele java lepang ina mio begem kpako lolo fai ger punga fai, uaj lolo fai, fe kam metej lodo fe ma parafa kide kenuke je lef, ju fata.” (O grandfather raja Rimo and grandmother Java lepang Ina, we are coming to bring the cry of the poor, widow and orphan from the beach, forthey are sttarving and thirsty. They have arrived in our clan house asking for green leaves such as edible fern and rattan leaves to feed their family.) They may chant imediately Gong when this prayer ended and move to another station.

 

The second station named Rang Gawak. Puposely they have to pass this station to offer rooster they bring with. They take the rooster, hang it on its wings at two bamboo sticks side by side and using a sharp thing or knife to stab on its head or kill its neck. When the rooster’s legs stretch out to the sea that means there is a sign of bountiful harvest in the sea. They then take the rooster grilled and eat together in a hurry and continue they proccession to the third and fourth station. There is no significant rite yet in this stones, only they have to tie some grasses on a stone which has a shape that resembles the buffalo and pull it until the grasses cut off.

 

They continue their proccesion in the fifth place named “enej Snoa”. They sound the gong to please the spirit of ancestors. They bring with them offering and put in front a big stone betel nut, palm lontar wine and cigar. The leader of the group the climb up to the stone and citing louder this mantra prayer: “Taisa, taisa e…Taisa to fata ju fata, tet furu kalolo fe ta parafa kide kenukaja, taisa..taisa e..e…” ( Let us all go! Let us go to the beach, bringing vegetables for the poor, widow and orphan. Let us go).

 

Ariving in the whale stone. In the sixth stations, there is a big stone named “fato Kotekelema”. Here the ceremony of the breaking of the chicken egg is again held, and then served together with the red rice and palm lontar wine. The leader the standing on the top of the whale stone would whip that stone with green leaves as he cites the other mantra prayer: Let us all go! Bring them all to the sea in order tobecome fishes. Our land produces corn, flasks and beans, and bountiful harvest for the food of the poor and orphans. Let us then go to the beach. The gong is played and the proccession continues and will stop in the ceremonial house of the landowner. From then on they move down to the beach passing the last station in Banilolo.

 

Upon ariving in Bataona ground, they are welcome by Lamalera people which they have gathered for waiting and being served in Bataona Calan house. When they enter the village the talk is prohibited. All have done in quiet until they get inside the Bataona clan house. At this moment they may talk and for a moment they stay in the clan house. They have to finish this ritual ceremony. From the clan house of Bataona they procced to the beach and swim into the sea. One who bring the traditional spear standing on the shoreline while observe the rest of the group swim. If the green leaves move away from their head that measn a good sign for fishing.

 

Tena fule is the last process of this rite. Usually it would be held after mass celebration. Praso sapang boat is always get asignment to bring this ritual to the sea. They bring with them sarong and bucket flowers for the spirit of the sea, spirit of the fishes and of course spirit of dead family in the sea as well. This ritual tena fule means, proclamation to the spirit of the sea, spirit of the fishes and spirit of the dead family that fishing and whaling activities is about to start. Therefore they ask for the safe fishing activities and whaling and properouss through the year of whaling.

 

Related to this ritual Ie gerek, there is Tobu neme Fate (annual gathering) which they hold uusually in the beach. This is the precious moment for everybody to come out with what we say comunal confesiion. This is the time for evaluation and also time to conffes any sin that happened in the pass. The sin that one commited or the other committed and it is allowed to admited by other either they have seen it or have heard other comitted any faults. Upon this public confession Landowner then take his holy water and ssprinckle to the fishermen as a sign of purufication and cleansing. They also sprinkle the holy water to these whaling boat. It is usually happened the day before misa lefa (mass celebration) being held.

 

Another activity that is significant is mass celebration for the souls and dead family in the sea. Most important is after mass they will put the candle floating which they beautify with flowers. They consider this as time for the whaling people to send their “Ume Lamak”. It is their hope, their prayer and their life that continuing the culture and whatever taught by their ancestors.